- Football in Wisconsin
Headed into this past weekend, Wisconsin had the longest active winning streak in college football, and Green Bay had the longest such streak in the NFL. On Saturday, the Illini ended the first of those, and on Sunday the Bears did their part with the latter. Wisconsin dropped from #5 to #19 in the AP poll (while Illinois made their season debut at #18), and Green Bay lost their first game of the season. The Bears just might have saved their season in the process; whereas a loss would’ve meant a 4-game deficit in the division, they are now only 2 games behind the Packers and looking to get back to .500 next weekend against the bottom-feeding Vikings.
- Quarterbacks’ Destinies Determined by the Media
The careers of Tony Romo and Rex Grossman have quite a few similarties, save for one (I’ll get to what that is in a second). Both came into the league 5 years ago. Both sat out for most of their first 3 years (Grossman due to multiple injuries, Romo because he came from EIU and was bred to be a backup QB). Both got a chance to shine in their 4th year (Grossman started all 16 games and led his team to Super Bowl XLI, Romo came in in relief of an ineffective Drew Bledsoe in week 6). Both had horrendously poor performances on a Monday Night Football game, but were able to still sneak out with a win and maintain their unbeaten starts to the season despite committing 4 (Rex) or 5 (Tony) interceptions (Grossman and the Bears in week 6 of 2006, Romo and the Cowboys in week 5 of 2007).
The difference, though, is that while the media vilified Grossman whenever he had a bad game, both last season and this season (to the point where the Bears finally benched him in favor of a washed-up never-was), they continue to ride the Tony Romo Love-Train no matter what he does. The same guy who let his team’s Super Bowl aspirations slip through his fingers a year ago is still a media darling this year, despite throwing 5 interceptions and fumbling once in a nationally-televised game against a terrible Bills team. And yet, you don’t hear any mentions of “Good Tony” or “Bad Tony.” Nobody calls for him to be benched, the fans don’t stupidly chant the name of a proven loser in the hopes that he’ll replace their young starter, and you never hear the media oversimplifying his performance down to “which Tony will show up tonight?”
Drew Brees is another example of a guy the media has fallen in love with and thus won’t question his position as the starter in New Orleans, despite the fact that all he’s done so far this season is lead them to an 0-4 start while throwing 9 interceptions and only 1 touchdown.
Unfortunately, Grossman doesn’t look like he’s going to be given another chance, at least not with this team, and at least not unless Griese gets hurt. So the source of my frustration is the fact that there is no answer to the question, “Who will be the Bears’ quarterback in 2008? 2009? 2010?” At least when they were sticking with Grossman, they were trying to develop a franchise guy. Now, though, they’re back to the turnstyle of old guys who were never any good in the first place.
- Years Without a Title
The Cubs got swept in their NLDS against Arizona, a team that has only existed for 10 years and yet has already managed to win a World Series (though I don’t think for a second that they’re headed for a second). As opposed to the Cubs, who have completed their 99th year without a WS title, and will be headed into the 2008 season looking to avoid reaching the century mark. Hopefully Mark Cuban gets the chance to see what a fresh attitude can do, which just might include a fresh bat, too.
- Cubs fans
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend Game 3 at Wrigley on Saturday, and while it was a disappointing game, I have to say that I was more disappointed in the fans that were there. Granted, their frustration was justified: the Cubs had a monstrous September, only to suddenly go cold in October, whereas the Diamondbacks went from being the worst-hitting team in the NL to a homerun-belting powerhouse. That still doesn’t justify, in my mind, booing your team at home, though, especially when they’re facing elimination. The stereotypically jovial bunch turned into a stadium full of jaded and bitter fans after Mark DeRosa grounded into a double play in the 5th inning with the bases loaded. Worse yet, they began filing out of the stadium after the 8th inning, while I and a few others around me sat there in bewilderment wondering, “Is this not playoff baseball? Have we given up on the mantra ‘anything can happen’?” Apparently they had, and the Cubs’ season ended quietly. We’ll see AC006299 on the sign next year.
- My Baseball Picks
Out of the 8 teams that I predicted would make the postseason, I was only right on 3 of them (all in the AL: Angels winning the West, Red Sox winning the East, and the Yankees winning the Wild Card). Heading into the LCSes, I’ve got nobody I picked still in it. So my new prediction: Red Sox sweep the Rockies in 4.